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The 193rd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 97B: Rape reporting and prosecution units within police departments; training and funding; personnel; retention and preservation of forensic evidence

Section 97B. There shall be within the police department of every city and town, or grouping of cities and towns with the approval of the secretary of the executive office of public safety, a rape reporting and prosecution unit which shall be designed to improve the quality of rape reporting, counselling, and prosecution. Said units shall consist of police investigators who shall have completed a course of training in the counselling of victims of rape and the prosecution of alleged perpetrators of the crime of rape which shall be approved and funded by the municipal police training committee established by section one hundred and sixteen of chapter six. Each department shall make efforts to employ women police officers to serve in said units. A victim of rape who is male shall, whenever possible, be interviewed initially by a male police officer, and a victim of rape who is female shall, whenever possible, be interviewed initially by a woman police officer. Each unit shall in addition make use of such counselors, attorneys, and medical personnel as are necessary to provide a broad range of therapeutic services for victims of rape.

Each unit shall provide personnel with training in the use of a standardized kit for the collection and preservation of evidence in rape cases. Such kit shall be designed by said municipal police training committee and shall include instructions, standardized reporting forms, and appropriate receptacles for the collection and preservation of evidence for laboratory and police use. Each kit shall also include medically and factually accurate written information prepared by the commissioner of public health about emergency contraception.

[Third through fifth paragraphs applicable as provided by 2016, 295, Sec. 3.]

At the time the evidence is obtained, a hospital licensed pursuant to chapter 111 shall inform a victim of rape or sexual assault that the evidence of rape or sexual assault preserved in a kit shall be kept for a period of not less than 15 years. This notice shall be provided to the victim in writing by the hospital.

A governmental entity, including a local law enforcement agency, a district attorney's office or any other official body of the commonwealth or of a county, city or town, that is in possession of forensic evidence, as defined in section 220 of chapter 111, that is collected for its potential evidentiary value during the investigation of a rape or sexual assault shall retain that forensic evidence for the length of the statute of limitations for the identified crime whether or not that crime has been charged, and in no case shall the forensic evidence be retained for less than 15 years. Each governmental entity shall retain all such forensic evidence in a manner that is reasonably designed to preserve the forensic evidence and to prevent its destruction or deterioration.

The director of the crime laboratory within the department of state police and the forensic sciences advisory board established by section 184A of chapter 6, shall promulgate regulations governing the retention and preservation of forensic evidence by a governmental entity. The regulations shall include: (i) standards for maintaining the integrity of the materials over time; (ii) the designation of officials at each governmental entity with custodial responsibility; and (iii) requirements for contemporaneously recorded documentation of individuals having and obtaining custody of the forensic evidence.